Backlist Reviews (or Why I Love the Quiet Ones)

The last few months of 2011 are going to be packed full of exciting new books and debut authors. While I’m anticipating a few with the passion of a thousand fiery suns–The Future of Us, anyone?–I have run into some problems with my reading list.

I’ve been blogging for a few months now and in that time, I’ve come across a lot of books that are ridiculously popular. While I never dismiss a book just because of massive buzz, it has gotten more difficult for me to find stories that haven’t already been read by hundreds of bloggers. In other words, I’m looking for backlist books, the ones that slip under the radar and aren’t mentioned quite as much as say, Hush Hush or The Mortal Instruments.

The problem lies in the fact that my taste in books tends to vary. An excellent writing style can get me through a cliche novel, but sometimes not even the most compelling characters can save a lackluster story. Paranormal stuff is fine by me, but I am reluctant to read anything with angels, vampires and werewolves because I rarely find any new hooks. I also tend to be wary of stories that are marketed as “the next *insert popular YA title here*.” I’ve most likely read that novel and will find it difficult to shed my automatic assumptions of the new story.

My time as a blogger has shown me that I’m a bit of a picky reader. While I’ll try most books at least once, the rush I feel when I find that diamond in the rough is unequaled. I love singing the praises of popular authors when they give the reader a story to stay up all night for, but it’s also wonderful to find a jewel of a book tucked away in the back of a library shelf. I would love to be the one to introduce readers to a book they might have missed in the heyday of new releases. Unfortunately, I never seem to run into any recommendations for older or backlisted novels.

And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky is a good example of this phenomenon. The book came out in July 2011, but I hadn’t even heard of it before August. Even then, it was just a link I stumbled upon on Goodreads one day and decided to check out. I hadn’t read any reviews or recommendations. It just seemed like an interesting book and I love Sylvia Plath. 20 pages in, I was in love and let me tell you, that was the sweetest and lightest fall into a book I’ve ever experienced. There was no pressure to love it or hate it. All I could do was enjoy it and I love that feeling.

I start new books every day looking for that same joy. Blogging can be a hassle sometimes and it isn’t always easy writing out thoughtful and careful reviews. (All authors deserve that, whether it’s positive or negative.) At the end of the day, all I’m looking for is a great story with enthralling characters. I would absolutely love to find more novels, both the popular ones and backlisted titles, that can give me that glorious satisfaction. They make the hard work, the stress and the eye strain worth it.

Have you found any backlist titles that you loved? Let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to check them out!


Categories: writing

4 replies »

  1. I love this post Angel. I definitely agree that there books that just fly right under the radar and don’t always get the attention they deserve. Discovering one of these titles is such a joy for me because it’s like finding a hidden secret!

    One book that came out last year that I LOVED but didn’t get too much attention was By Nightfall by the amazing Michael Cunningham. And one of my very favourite books is Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson. Both of these books are just beautifully written, but may be passed over for bigger titles from their respected authors (The Hours or Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit).

    Anyways, there’s my two cents and a coupler recommendations for you! Great post.


  2. Hi Angel,

    I was moved by how beautifully you described the fall into a deliciously good book and the joy that consumes you when this happens. As Shannon said, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of discovering hidden jewels, carefully tucked away waiting for you.

    A hidden jewel that I adore is an older one: “The Blue Castle” by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It does not seem to be as well-known as her famous “Anne of Green Gables”. I always enjoy reading this book because the characters are so well-depicted, the struggle to overcome fear is still a very relevant theme and the sweet success and eventual triumph are easy to share. I feel transported when I read it.


  3. This is a great post indeed! I’m having a sort of crisis along similar lines. I do enjoy reading the popular books, especially when they live up to the hype but I try to actively search out great reads that don’t get that same attention too. I read Vampire a Go-Go by Victor Gischler a while back and loved it! It was full of quirky humour, history, and funky characters.

    I find this idea of what books to choose also coincides with the argument regarding the “niche blog”. (Most of the argument has been in my head recently, but others have mentioned it too :-p ) Are bloggers able to get the word out more effectively if they stick to one type of book? I like to switch up what I’m reading so have been afraid to commit myself to anything but I can see how effective it is when browsing YA blogs or Paranormal dedicated ones.

    So the question I have is how to find those great, under recognized, books while being able to rave about them most effectively, thus making the “book blogger” experience well-rounded?

    (Another rec would be Across the Endless River by Thaddeus Carhart)

  4. How old do you want these backlist titles to be? Because there are a lot that I could reccomend (…and yeah, they just may all be Australian).

    I’ll just mention a couple now, and then I can always rec you more 🙂

    The Reformed Vampire Support Group, Catherine Jinks (On Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6395646-the-reformed-vampire-support-group)

    Tomorrow, When the War Began, John Marsden (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6098388-tomorrow-when-the-war-began)

    Obernewtyn, Isobelle Carmody (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3233802-obernewtyn)

    Feeling Sorry for Celia, Jaclyn Moriarty (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1987804.Feeling_Sorry_for_Celia)

    Letters from the Inside, John Marsden (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/71868.Letters_from_the_Inside)

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